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Harmless Drudge speaks - The Ex-Communicator

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September 25th, 2008

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06:19 pm - Harmless Drudge speaks
From kalypso_v a meme: 'Post something from Samuel Johnson in your blog'.

We stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it -- "I refute it thus."

A very silly refutation, but a good line.

(4 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:September 25th, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC)
Actually, I think it's an excellent refutation.
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Date:September 26th, 2008 08:22 am (UTC)
It demonstrates the bias of common sense. Have you read the Bores short story 'Tlon Uqbar Orbis Tertius' which (I think) is about a world where people's common sense tends towards idealism rather than materialism.
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Date:September 25th, 2008 11:36 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, it's not a very good refutation of Berkeley's thesis (misses the point somewhat). And Berkeley's thesis is not without gaping holes, so it's not like there aren't plenty of good arguments for refuting him.
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Date:September 26th, 2008 08:16 am (UTC)
One of my lecturers said that he could have been expressing the theory that both the idealist and materialist positions collapse into the same phenomenal experience - a kind of anticipation of Kant. He was joking though.

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